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Dish

Artist/Maker:
Albright/Loy School
Place Made:
Alamance County, North Carolina
Date Made:
DATE MADE: 1830-1835
Medium:
earthenware
Dimensions:
DIA 11 1/8; HOA 2 1/8
Accession Number:
89.5
Description:
Slip decorated dish with overall cream slip; decoration consists of black (manganese) and red slip. Central bird or flower motif surrounded by ring of nested triangles. Rim consists of vine-like decoration.

MAKER: Much of the earthenware from the St. Asaph’s tradition centered on the closely allied Albright and Loy families. Jacob Albright (1753-1825) was listed as a “potter” as early as the 1800 tax records for St. Asaph’s district, and he was also the father-in-law of potter Henry Loy (1777-1825) and the grandfather of potter Solomon Loy (1805-after 1865).

Ceramic fragments recovered at the site of Jacob Albright’s pottery document the production of earthenware with dark brown and black grounds and polychrome slip decoration. The decorative vocabulary of his pottery included marbleizing—a technique rare in southern slipware— as well as trailing in both abstract and naturalistic styles. Most of the fragments are from dishes, but bases from three mugs or tankards with polychrome banding indicate that Albright’s pottery also made decorated hollow ware. “An Inventory and an Account of Sales of the Estate of Jacob Albright Decd,” dated March 24, 1825 listed two potter’s wheels, a glaze mill, a clay mill, a grindstone, a pipe mold, a stove mold, and numerous crocks, dishes, basons, jugs, pitchers, and sugar pots. The amount of equipment would have been sufficient for a modest workforce.

Beckerdite, Luke, Johanna Brown, and Linda Carnes-McNaughton. “Slipware from the St. Asaph’s Tradition.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA. Milwaukee, WI: Chipstone Foundation, 2010.

Carnes-McNaughton, Linda. “Solomon Loy: Master Potter of the Carolina Piedmont.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA. Milwaukee, WI: Chipstone Foundation, 2010.

History:
History:
The Loy and Albright families settled in what was known as the “Stinking Quarter” in Orange County (what is now Alamance County) in the 1760’s having come from Berks County, Pennsylvania. Although the progenitor of the Loy Family in America, Martin Loy (died 1779), may have been a potter, the earliest documented potter in Orange County was Jacob Albright (b. ca1753– d. ca1823) who is listed as a potter on both the 1800 and 1801 St. Asaph’s District, Orange County, tax records. His son, John, is listed as a potter on the 1801 tax record from the same area. The 1826 sale of Jacob’s estate included large quantities of pottery and potter’s tools including a “Sugar Pot” which sold for 16 shillings. Jacob’s daughter Sophia (b. 1780) married Henry Loy, grandson of Martin Loy and son of John Loy. Henry and Sophia lived on property owned by Jacob Albright and evidence suggests that Henry was also a potter. Four of Henry’s sons (Solomon, John, Joseph, and Jeremiah) and several of his grandchildren and great grandchildren were also potters. The best known of Henry’s sons is Solomon (1805–ca. 1860) who eventually moved slightly South to Chatham county where he made earthenware and eventually transitioned into stoneware manufacture.

This particular dish was made by Solomon Loy, the son of Henry Loy (son-in-law to Jacob Albright, Jr.). The nested triangle on this dish are a motif seen on another dish signed by Solomon Loy. The central motif on this dish can be read as a degraded version of the stylized bird or flower seen on earlier generations of Albright/ Loy School pottery.

The foliate slip decoration on the marley (or flat portion of the rim) of the dish compares favorably to the cobalt leave-like decorations on the stoneware creampot, also made by Solomon Loy.

The St. Asaph’s Tradition
Most of the surviving examples of North Carolina slipware are associated with Germanic craftsmen who worked in and around the St. Asaph’s district of Orange County (now southern Alamance County). The forms and motifs introduced by the first potters who settled in that area coalesced in southwestern Germany, arrived with immigrant craftsmen who initially settled in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and persisted in North Carolina from the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century. Unlike some areas of the backcountry, where interactions with different ethnic groups or various social and economic forces lead to the assimilation of Old World craft traditions, the interrelated and interdependent Germanic communities of southeastern Guilford County and southern Alamance County were obstacles to change. Slipware from the St. Asaph’s tradition differs significantly from that associated with the Moravians. Whereas the Moravians had a naturalistic vocabulary with theological underpinnings and appear to have limited their trailing to dishes and plates, the St. Asaph’s potters used a wide range of motifs— stylized crosses and plant forms, fylfots, imbricated triangles, and other geometric designs—on both flat and hollow ware forms. Surviving examples of slip-decorated hollow ware include pitchers, tankards, bottles, flasks, barrels, bowls, and distinctive covered vessels referred to during the period as “sugar pots.” The St. Asaph’s potters used dark brown and black grounds to a much greater extent than other American earthenware
potters. (Art in Clay Gallery Guide)

Claylines and Bloodlines
In Europe and America, potters working outside large metropolitan areas typically relied on kinship networks to safeguard craft knowledge; provide an affordable, trustworthy workforce; pass trade secrets from generation
to generation; absorb competition and build patronage networks through intermarriage; secure raw materials and financing; and establish links to their community. As folklorist John Burrison observed, rural potters “guarded their family lines as carefully as they did their craft traditions.” As a result, family potting traditions were often as stylistically and technically monolithic as those associated with urban guilds or other governing associations. This was especially true when potters were part of a culturally homogenous community, since makers and consumers were inextricably bound in the production of objects. At least seven members of the Loy family were potters. The American patriarch of that line was Martin Loy, who was born in Hessen, Germany, immigrated to Berks
County, Pennsylvania in 1741and settled in Alamance County between 1755 and 1765. Generations of his family have maintained that the Loys were Huguenots, who escaped France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1688, and sought refuge in Germany. The Loys intermarried with other families who moved from Berks County to Alamance County, most notably the Albrights, who were originally of Swiss extraction. Martin’s grandson Henry married Sophia Albright, daughter of pottery owner Jacob Albright Jr. Much of the earthenware from the St. Asaph’s tradition appears to have centered on those allied families. (Art in Clay Gallery Guide)

Jacob Albright and Henry Loy
Ceramic fragments recovered at the site of Jacob Albright Jr.’s pottery document the production of earthenware with dark brown and black grounds and polychrome slip decoration. The decorative vocabulary of his pottery included marbleizing—a technique rare in southern slipware— as well as trailing in both abstract and naturalistic styles. Most ofthe fragments are from dishes, but bases from three mugs or tankards with polychrome banding indicate that Albright’s pottery also made decorated hollow ware. The designation “potter” appears next to Albright’s name in the 1800 tax list for the St. Asaph’s district, but it is unclear whether he worked in that trade or provided land and financing for a pottery operated by his son-in-law Henry Loy. The Albrights were prominent landowners in Alamance County, making either scenario possible. “An Inventory and an Account of Sales of the Estate of Jacob
Albright Decd,” dated March 24, 1825 listed two potter’s wheels, a glaze mill, a clay mill, a grindstone, a pipe mold, and a stove mold. That amount of equipment would have been sufficient for a modest workforce. In 1780, the pottery in Salem had three wheels, a glaze mill, and a variety of pipe, plate, and tile molds and at least five workmen. (Art in Clay Gallery Guide)

See also “Ceramics in America” 2010, pp 15-65.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton